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THUNDER Agents 4
"Menthor And The Great Hypno"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND April, 1966

Story: Unknown Art: Wally Wood

(Originally Reviewed On 06/18/02)

John Janus, a.k.a. Menthor, has just entered a deserted warehouse after receiving a mysterious phone call, where two thugs lay in wait to snatch his helmet! Janus knows one of them as his brother, Conrad!

Menthor fights with the two men, while a third thug sneaks up behind him, only to be caught by one of Menthor's punches, because how can you sneak up on a man who reads minds? Menthor is seized, while another seeks to snag his helmet, but a blast of mental force holds the crook in place, and as Menthor uses his telekinesis to "pull" the gun from the other crook's hand, the trapped thug is freed, and grabs the helmet!

Janus uses his hand-to-hand skills to deal with the thugs, until he is knocked out by a treacherous blow. Conrad dons the helmet and is determined to become the new Menthor, while a shadowy figure watches and wonders about its significance. The crooks depart, leaving John unconscious on the floor, and the observer, seeking to gain his confidence, asks about the helmet. Unfortunately for both men, John has developed amnesia from the punch!

The man introduces himself as The Great Hypno and offers John employment as his assistant. Soon, the man who was once Menthor is a boardwalk mentalist, who is identifying objects for the amusement of the crowd. Hypno sees that the young man is an actual mind-reader, and hypnotizes him, learning that it was the helmet which made him a mind-reader.

Hypno learns about Menthor's origin as an agent of T.H.U.N.D.E.R., and how the helmet enabled him to use the full energy of his brain, which includes telepathy, E.S.P., hypnosis, and telekinesis. It is a mystery to the young man how he's able to retain these abilities without the helmet, but continued usuage must have permanently effected this change! Hypno learns that Menthor has a mental link to the helmet, and under hypnotic control, the mesmerized T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent leads him to Thunder HQ, where it is being stored ever since the death of Conrad Janus (Thunder #3). Since he is a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent, Menthor is able to pass through the security system, and is spotted by a fellow T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent, who is surprised to see him!

Menthor punches the startled agent out, then retrieves the helmet, and gives it to Hypno, who is confident that he will be the greatest stage mentalist ever! (Holy John Edwards, Batman!) Donning it, Hypno is confident that he'll be the biggest crook ever! At a bank, he compells the tellers to give him the money! The bank guards load the loot into the armored car for him, as well, but a patrol car sees the strange exchange, and decides to investigate!

At the warehouse, Hypno is enjoying the ill-gotten gains, only to hear the police sirens, and his hideout is soon surrounded by patrol cars! Hypno opens fire at the authorities, and the gunshots jar Janus out of his trance, only to be shot by Hypno, who leaves some of the loot behind so that the young man will take the fall, while he makes his escape in a nearby speedboat.

Fortunately, Menthor revives in the prison hospital, having only been grazed by the shot, and what's more.. he's regained his memory! Wondering if he still has his mental powers, he tries to compel a prison guard to open the cell door...

The guard complies, and Menthor takes his leave, then homes in on the helmet by following its vibrations. He can hear Hypno's thoughts and learns that the criminal is planning to rob Fort Knox! (Holy Auric Enterprise, Batman!) The helicopter arrives in time for Menthor to see that Hypno has ordered the soldiers to load the waiting trucks, but it's soon a battle of wills, as Menthor and Hypno duel, with the hapless soldiers as their pawns! Hypno commands the guards to shoot down Menthor's helicopter, but fortunately, he is able to parachute to safety! On the ground, Menthor sees that Hypno has sent a driverless car speeding toward him...!

Menthor uses the gates to block the car's progress, but they are jammed, and he must climb over the fence. He hopes that Hypno doesn't have the guards activate the electrified fence, but as the villain picks up the idea, and puts it to use, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent is able to have a guard use his rifle barrel to short the circuit so that he can leap to safety. Menthor is seized by a group of hypnotized guards, and he knows that he can't deal with them, as well as ward off Hypno's influence, as well. Hearing his foe's thoughts, Hypno heads for the vault, and the gold!

So overcome by the sight of the gold is Hypno, that he forgets all else, and Menthor is able to free himself from the now-dazed guards. As Hypno covets the gold, he hears the most unwelcome thoughts of Menthor, and turns to face the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent! Both mens' wills are put to the test, with Hypno wearing protected by the helmet, and Menthor immune to its power! Hypno decides to overcome this stalemate by use of brute strength...

Unfortunately for Hypno, Menthor is a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent, and as such, he is well-versed in the art of hand-to-hand combat! In desperation, Hypno hurls some gold ingots at Menthor, then in his panic, he seeks to climb over the stack of ingots behind him, and is caught under the falling avalanche of gold! John Janus has regained the helmet, and by donning it, he is once again... Menthor!

Menthor is the only T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent to have died in battle, and no one has assumed the identity since his death.

The helmet reminds me visually of Bullseye, while Menthor's uniform is similar to that of The Atom or The Blue Beetle.

I wonder if Conrad Janus was named after the actor, Conrad Janis?

Another Silver Age helmet is that of The Helmet of Power from Sub-Mariner, which Paul Destine used to become Destiny, and destroy the city of Atlantis, dying later on, and not aware that it was in actuality, The Serpent Crown!

On the '60s Spider-Man cartoon, there was mention of an Astro-Helmet, which was used by a young teen to save his father, as Sky-Boy, from the mad Dr. Zap.

"What's Opera, Doc?" had Bugs Bunny less than impressed by Elmer's spear and magic helmet.

Hawkeye is another Silver Age character who got his start by spending time in a carnival and entertaining the rubes.

Amnesia, as with purple covers, motorcycles, and gorillas, is another staple of the Silver Age.

Prince Namor spent years as an amnesiac in the bowery.

Another person who woke up in a prison hospital during The Silver Age is Spider-man, and the story was also adapted for the '60s cartoon, as well.

The plot to invade Fort Knox was also the premise of the James Bond movie, "Goldfinger."

Gold is a member of The Metal Men.

Gold is fatal to The Cybermen from Doctor Who.

Curtis Kenyon is the Green Lantern villain known as Goldface, and is featured in The Flash by Geoff Johns and Scott Kollins.

"Can You Read My Mind?" is a song from The Superman Movie.

This Review Is Dedicated To Honorary T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Rich Goldberg, Tom Orzechowski, and Pulse Operative Jen Contino.

Steve Chung
"Menthor And The Great Review"